Ankara’s new roadmap for Syria - MEHMET ACET

Ankara’s new roadmap for Syria

When U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria developed in a surprise manner, it led to the re-dealing of the Syria cards for players in the game.

Of course, this applies to Turkey as well. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, with whom we gathered yesterday morning for an evaluation of 2018 in foreign politics, stated that they want to consult the partners over this latest development, and take action accordingly.

The priority for Ankara is to avoid any gap during the withdrawal process of U.S. troops. In this context, a significant portion of the "consultations" are being held with Washington. The U.S. administration seems to have accepted Ankara's request to act in coordination.

A military delegation will be coming to Ankara within this week to discuss the withdrawal process with their counterparts.

Simultaneously, meetings will be held with Moscow as per President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's instruction to discuss the new situation.

When this topic was mentioned, Çavuloğlu said, "Russia is one of the actors on the field. We are going to pay a visit to Russia in the upcoming days and exchange ideas. We need to consult with the other actors as well to prevent any void."

'The US's withdrawal may help find a long lasting solution to the PYD problem'

The statement was made by Minister Çavuşoğlu.

We can say that this statement actually reflects Turkey's priority and essential position in the new Syria equilibrium.

This also means:

The circumstance caused by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) taking over one-third of Syrian territory with U.S. support, in other words, the future of the "Rojava project" awaits bad days.

So, what kind of a prediction can be made?

It is possible to consider the words, "We will not abandon Syrian Kurds to PYD oppression", that found response in President Erdoğan's statements as a signal flare.

This approach indicates the following intention in terms of Ankara:

To better organize the Kurdish groups that support Turkey and replace the YPG with them in Syria's future.

We may encounter more visible results of this policy in the upcoming period.

'Pompeo called and asked questions, I said ask the military'

There were interesting reports in foreign media with respect to the background of the Trump-Erdoğan telephone call on Dec. 14, and we cited quotes from those articles in this column on Monday.

In one of those articles, we had mentioned that one day prior to the call, in other words on Dec. 13, U.S. Secretary of Department Mike Pompeo called his Turkish counterpart to obtain information on Turkey's preparations regarding its operation east of the Euphrates River.

After Çavuşoğlu confirmed this information before they even asked, he shared new information regarding that conversation. He said:

"Pompeo called me [the Dec. 13 conversation] and asked questions like, 'What is the plan, strategy?' Technical questions. I said, 'These are technical questions. You can call our military authorities if you want to find out the answer. But if you want to find out our determination, we are determined.'"

Assad’s Manbij move

Following the U.S.'s decision to withdraw its troops in Syria, yesterday, the first move that can be considered to be "filling the void" came from the Damascus regime.

The area called Arimah in west Manbij switched hands and went from the control of the YPG terror group to units affiliated with Bashar Assad's regime. This was likely the result of a pass between the regime and the YPG in a tight area.

Meanwhile, it is possible to see this and similar developments that are likely to take place in the upcoming days as parts of the cornered YPG's efforts to bring Turkey up against Assad's army.

We are aware of the frequent meetings between the Assad regime and the YPG. However, as Çavuşoğlu also stated yesterday, as the interests of both sides usually conflict, neither side is able to achieve successful results from these meetings.

Let us say they reached an agreement and decided to make a new distribution of power among themselves east of the Euphrates.

What would Turkey's reaction be in such a situation?

We will give the answer to this question with a statement from the foreign minister again:

"Let us say the regime came and the YPG is there. We would not hesitate in the slightest. Just as we are carrying out operations against the PKK threat in Iraq, we will do the same in Syria as well. This is a matter of perpetuity for Turkey. It is a national security issue."


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